PART 2. THE HERBS
Slippery elms, along with other elm trees, were wiped out by Dutch elm disease and are now considered endangered. This is partly due to their low numbers, but also their slow-growing nature, which makes their population slow to replenish. You can find small and full-grown trees available in some nurseries as well as online as their bark is still in demand. Many herbalists substitute marsh mallow in recipes whenever allowed or readily available. A healthy tree can top 60 feet tall. What’s coveted for medicinal use is the inner bark on the branches.
Did You Know?
Slippery elm is famous for its “mucilaginous” consistency, meaning the thick, gooey texture inherent in some plants. This viscosity, combined with its natural anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant characteristics, make it a soothing, nourishing ingredient in modern skincare lines. Back in the day, Native Americans used to soak slippery elm bark, cover wounds, and allow it to dry over the injured area as the bark imparted its healing compounds into the skin.
MEDICINAL: Treats cough, sore throats, and laryngitis; eases digestive and GI (gastroinstestinal) problems like constipation, diarrhea, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), ulcers, and hemorrhoids; heals skin conditions like burns, cold sores, boils, ulcers, abscesses, and wounds; and eases tooth pain.
COSMETIC: Soothes aging skin, combats wrinkles, erases sun damage.
•Apply as a compress or poultice
•Drink as a tea or infusion
Don’t take slippery elm if you’re breastfeeding or pregnant. It’s rumored to cause miscarriages and even trigger abortions. In some instances, slippery elm can cause an allergic reaction. If skin gets irritated, discontinue use or lower the dose.
Locating & Growing
You’ll find slippery elm in places with poorly drained soil like river beds, stream banks, low lands, mountain bottoms, or canyons. It’s best suited for environments that allow for the tree to have moist soil and partial sunlight.